Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another Conspiracy Course From English Professor John Boly

We have blogged about Marquette English professor John Boly, who appears to be a heavy-duty conspiracy theorist.

He’s back at it this spring, according to the English Department’s list of courses.
ENGLISH 173: STUDIES IN GENRE:

PROFESSOR JOHN BOLY

• 1001 TUTH 9:35-10:50

DYSTOPIAN FICTION: UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA/HETEROPTOPIA

Is America run by a hidden and arrogant financial elite? Are politicians their sock-puppets? Could illegal and immoral petro-wars be started on false pretexts so a corrupt few can get rich and herd everyone else into a police state? Is corporate owned news a megaphone for CIA propaganda? Are vaccines and other pharmaceutical drugs delivery systems for diseases like cancer and AIDS? Are water supplies deliberately poisoned by eugenicists intent on reducing the population to morons? If questions like these interest you, then try this course. We will study the connections among three closely related genres: utopia (the desirable place), dystopia (the abject hellhole), and heterotopia (the denied or repressed place). The syllabus will include a broad range of works, from Frank Baum’s beloved children’s tale, The Wizard of Oz, to George Orwell’s vision of a global concentration camp, 1984; from Aldous Huxley’s eugenic paradise, Brave New World, to Margaret Atwood’s nightmare society dictated by women-hating fundamentalists, The Handmaid’s Tale; from Kurt Vonnegut’s slapstick black comedies to Kazuo Ishiguro’s elegant psychological thriller, Never Let Me Go. In addition to these fictional works, we will also look at some of the non-fictional narratives that inspired our novelists. These heterotopias, the repressed histories often dismissed as “conspiracy theories,” will give us an opportunity to consider the writings of historians and investigative reporters such as Ida Tarbell, Anthony C. Sutton, Robert Stinnett, and Gary Allen. But the big surprise is that these heterotopians are joined by some unexpected conspiracy theorists: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. If recent events leave you questioning the official picture of the world, then utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia are the genres for you.
When we blogged about a different (but equally conspiracy-oriented) course of Boly’s this summer, we were not in a particularly mellow mood, and denounced his conspiracy theorizing as indicative of “the corruption of academia generally, and especially the humanities, by attitudes that are fundamentally hostile to sound history and sound social science.”

Looking at this course description, we are inclined to be a bit more mellow, thinking “he’s just an English professor, so getting the empirical truth right is less important than a compelling aesthetic vision” and “he can’t really believe all this stuff, can he?”

In fact, the course looks to us like a real hoot. Indeed, if some student signs up for both Boly’s course and our own course on the Kennedy assassination, they are guaranteed a wild, and we think, very interesting semester.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Resin said...

Why do you bash your colleagues so heinously?

9:01 AM  
Blogger James Wigderson said...

Any auditors for your class?

1:07 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Any auditors for your class?

Usually that can be arranged, yes.

7:02 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Why do you bash your colleagues so heinously?

You think this was heinously? I've done much worse for professors who were nasty, politically correct authoritarians.

But just whom do you think should "blow the whistle" when professors do crazy things?

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Resin said...

"But just whom do you think should "blow the whistle" when professors do crazy things?"

Students. They're the ones providing jobs for professors. If they don't like what's being taught or what is being done, then there should be organization against the professor on the students' part.

Students will react when professors do crazy things like hack into list serves and email an entire class or when they post students' full names and emails on their blog, etc. etc.

You can whine as much as you want on your blog about other professors, but it will mostly just come off as unprofessional and mean-spirited.

5:53 AM  

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